(Senate - April 19, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 60 (Tuesday, April 19, 2016)]
[Pages S2194-S2195]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, recently the Senate marked a 
significant achievement--the final passage of the bipartisan 
reauthorization of the Older Americans Act--and now the President has 
signed it into law.
  This act provides seniors access to home-delivered meals, like Meals 
on Wheels; seniors centers; transportation, like rides to the senior 
center and the grocery store; and meals served at senior centers and 
churches. Other services include caregiver support, preventive health 
services, job training and support, elder abuse prevention, and the 
long-term care ombudsman.
  In 2012, Tennessee served 2.4 million meals to seniors through Older 
Americans Act programs.
  This reauthorization also will make a few important improvements.
  One, it will provide States, area agencies on aging, and service 
providers with information and technical assistance in collaboration 
with relevant Federal agencies, on providing efficient, person-centered 
transportation services, including across geographic boundaries.
  That means that when a senior who lives Kentucky and wants to come 
see her doctor just over the border in Tennessee, it is easier for her 
to get that ride.
  Two, this bill addresses the tragic issue of elder abuse with 
provisions for the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It 
bolsters services that address elder justice and exploitation of older 
individuals, including financial exploitation, which can be devastating 
to a senior's ability to stay independent and in his own home.
  Three, this bill ensures States receive funding based on their senior 
population. Senator Richard Burr worked hard with me on this, and we 
have him to thank for this update.
  This bill is the product of several years of bipartisan collaboration 
and compromise. This legislation protects and strengthens the 
underlying law's many vital programs. I look forward to seeing S. 192 
signed into law, and now I would like to yield to my colleague, Senator 
  Mr. BURR. I would also like to thank my colleagues, particularly 
Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Senator Sanders, for 
their partnership in working with me to reauthorize the Older Americans 
Act. I am pleased that our efforts have resulted in sending a strong 
reauthorization of the Older Americans Act to the President's desk. The 
reauthorization of these critical support programs for seniors has been 
a process that each of us has been actively involved in over the last 
few years, and I am proud to see this bipartisan piece of legislation 
on its way to becoming law.
  I want to focus on a key aspect of this reauthorization for my 
constituents--the change in the funding formula. In 2010, the 
Government Accountability Office, GAO, determined that the formula 
responsible for the allocation of State funding in the OAA was broken. 
It took us 6 years to act, and I am pleased to see this important 
change included in the OAA reauthorization, allowing funds to be 
directed where they are most needed. This is a commonsense, but 
critical change for better ensuring that the dollars are following the 
  This change is especially important for North Carolina's seniors. The 
change in the formula calculation will increase resources for these 
programs in North Carolina and other States where seniors have moved 
since the last reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, a decade 
ago. As more and more seniors make North Carolina their home, this will 
help ensure that resources are being more fairly allocated based on the 
needs of seniors today and in the future, which is a key aspect of 
helping some of our most vulnerable seniors age with the dignity and 
respect they deserve.
  I often hear from my constituents--area agencies on aging, PACE 
program directors, and North Carolinians themselves--about the benefits 
that come from the programs authorized by the Older Americans Act. The 
continuation of these programs, which provide meals, caregiver 
supports, and help seniors stay in the comfort of their homes and local 
communities longer positively impacts the lives of millions of seniors 
every day. With the passage of this legislation, almost 2 million North 
Carolina seniors may be able to benefit from State and local programs 
that provide needed support for them and their families. I am proud to 
have fought on behalf of North Carolina's seniors for the improvements 
reflected in this reauthorization bill, and I look forward to 
continuing to work to improve the quality of life for my constituents.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. In addition to providing grants to States for senior 
social and nutrition services, this reauthorization also aims to 
continue protecting vulnerable elders from abuse by ensuring access to 
abuse screening and prevention through efforts like the Senior Medicare 
Patrol, SMP, program, which helps train seniors to recognize and 
protect themselves from Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The most recent 
inspector general report noted that the program had educated over 3.5 
million beneficiaries, reached 27 million people, and saved about $106 
  The programs authorized by this law provide critical services to help 
Americans live with dignity well into their later years, but these 
services also provide a significant return on investment for taxpayers.
  They help decrease the increasing cost pressures on Medicare and 
Medicaid. These programs that help seniors stay healthy, independent, 
and living

[[Page S2195]]

in their own homes also are helping seniors stay where they want to 
be--and that is less expensive for taxpayers than if these seniors were 
instead in nursing homes.
  Mr. ENZI. I would also like to highlight the National Resource Center 
for Women and Retirement as a highly successful program run by the 
Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement--known to most as ``WISER''--
a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the security of women's 
retirement income through outreach, partnerships, and policy 
development. The staff and programs at WISER have provided important 
and effective trainings and education in my home State of Wyoming, as 
well as around the country.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. For more than 50 years, the Older Americans Act has 
been effective in large part because these successful programs are 
funded through flexible grants to States. States know best what 
services will be most beneficial for their residents to live healthier, 
more independent lives as they age.
  I want to thank Senator Murray for working with me on this bill in 
our committee.
  I want to thank Senator Collins, whose leadership on the Special 
Committee on Aging was instrumental. Her determination to help seniors 
stay home and independent helped us get this bill through the full 
  I want to thank Senator Burr for his determination to get a result on 
the funding issue.
  Finally, I would like to thank Senator Sanders for his tireless work 
on this issue and on this bill.